I’ve branched out into the game meat world with a Venison Cheeseburger! Your family will love this leaner meat, and you’ll love the flavors in this burger.
I grew up a city girl in Maryland, about 40 minutes south of Baltimore. I never listened to country music, and certainly never had cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, or shot a gun. Heck, I never even held a gun. Then I moved to Oklahoma in 2007. It took a few years, but I bought cowboy boots, became a fan of a lot of country music, and adjusted to small-city life. But still don’t have a cowboy hat, still never shot a gun.
One of the best things about Stillwater is my friends. I met Michele and Reilly 3 years ago, and we quickly became very close. About a year ago Reilly launched Hero Outdoor Products, an outdoor lifestyle company. I’ve now worked 2 hunting tradeshows in OKC, and learned enough to become a pretty good saleswoman of duck decoys, duck calls, and T-Post Steppers. I’ve even asked if the guys would take me hunting. I NEVER thought that would ever come out of my mouth. But if I’m going to sell product, I should have a general idea of how it works in real life. We’ll see how that goes.
In January, Reilly suggested that I create game meat recipes, to expand my niche. I’ve become much more adventurous since I began the blog, but game meat is a huge leap. One of my favorite restaurants in town offers bison as a patty option for their burgers, but I wouldn’t order it until I tried a bite of Bob’s. Now that’s the only burger patty I order there. Last fall I tried chili that Bob’s mom made. They let me in on the secret after I finished eating; it was deer meat chili. About a month ago, Michele made elk chili, and I think I ate 3 bowls of it. So obviously I’ll eat game meat that others cook; tackling it myself is a whole other ball game.
I agreed with Reilly’s suggestion when he first brought it up, and even came up with a few recipe ideas, but I still had that fear in the back of my mind so I kept putting it off. Reilly brought it up again several times, so I knew I needed to get my act together. I wanted to start simple, and originally planned venison chili cheese dogs. But nobody wants to eat chili in the middle of summer in Oklahoma, and I’ve never made chili before. So I decided on venison burgers. Yes, deer meat burgers. Deer meat burgers that I planned to cook.
Earlier this spring I visited 1907 Meat Company in Stillwater and got a tour of their operation. I learned that game meat requires its own processing room, so many butchers don’t carry game meat. Hunters who kill game animals have their meat processed. But I didn’t have any of that handy. I did find frozen venison at Sprouts Farmer’s Market. I also found bison, elk, and other game meat…but, one challenge at a time.
Game meat is extremely lean, which means it’s healthier than regular beef. But that also means it needs some help…proper seasoning, added fat, and low and slow cooking. Pinterest came to the rescue with a few recipes. I decided to test 4 different versions, to see which I liked best: plain, jalapeno, cheese stuffed, and bell pepper. Jalapeno won, hands-down.
I didn’t want to do just plain burgers, so I created a Venison Cheeseburger with Jalapeno and Guacamole
Oh my goodness, this Venison Cheeseburger is fabulous. I always worried about the gamey taste with game meat. But when it’s done right, you can’t tell the difference. It tastes just like a regular burger. I have to admit, I am so proud of my delicious creation.
HOW TO ADD FLAVOR AND MOISTURE TO VENISON MEAT
- Worchestershire Sauce. This is one of those sauces that I don’t know exactly what’s in it, but I really like the flavor. And if you don’t add the sauce when a recipe calls for it, the recipe won’t taste the same.
- Cooked Bacon: I started buying thick-cut bacon a couple of months ago, and haven’t looked back.
- Sauteed Onion and Garlic: I saute the onion and garlic in a little bit of the reserved bacon fat. Don’t judge. It adds to the depth of flavor
- Fresh parsley: I use fresh herbs as often as I can, and parsley adds a really nice fresh flavor to the meat
- Onion Powder and Garlic Powder. Even though I use fresh onion and garlic, I add both powders to the mix for an extra punch of flavor
Once the bacon, onions and garlic cool, add it to the venison. Add the Worchestershire sauce, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper, combine it well and let sit for about 30 minutes. This allows the flavors to develop, and the venison to absorb the juices. I make a little extra bacon, because I find myself picking at it while I wait. Also, because there’s really no such thing as too much bacon.
A couple of recipes I found called to add an egg into the mix. I forgot it when I made the test sliders, and didn’t even realize it until after the fact, but the patties still held together well. Once the mixture has rested, form the Venison Cheesburgers into patties.
You can also make these patties ahead of time, to speed up the process when it’s time to cook. Since I cook for just me, I wrapped the other patty in cling wrap and put it into the fridge. I made it 2 days later, and it was perfect. I haven’t tested them out of the freezer, but I would think 4-5 days would be the maximum for the freshest taste.
Another key to cooking game meat is low and slow. That prevents the meat from getting tough, or losing too much fat. Since I’m new to this I used a grill pan for this Venison Cheeseburger so I could keep an eye on their progress. I sprayed the pan with a little bit of Avocado Oil Spray, and turned the heat to medium-low. I cooked the burgers for about 7 minutes per side, but it depends on the patty size. That’s another reason I did test slider patties, to gauge how long they take to cook. I cooked the patties to medium/medium well.
VERSATILITY OF THE VENISON CHEESEBURGER
One of the things I like best about the Venison Cheeseburger is the versatility. Go simple, go loaded, go anything in between
- I dressed the buns lightly with yellow mustard and avocado oil mayonnaise. Of course, you can dress with condiments of your choice.
- I used provolone cheese, because I had some that I needed to use it up. Don’t like provolone? Switch it out for another flavor. Don’t want cheese? Omit it completely
- When I tested the venison patties I mixed diced raw jalapeno into the patty. But I also really like the flavor subtle heat of grilled jalapeno, so I did sliced grilled jalapeno instead
- I love avocado, but with the creamy texture it doesn’t always stay on burgers very well. And I wanted to add tomato, so I made guacamole. Some still fell off the burger, but that’s because I was generous with the guacamole
- After I finished eating the Venison Cheeseburger I realized I forgot to add lettuce. Any type of lettuce, or even baby spinach leaves, would work well.
- If you don’t like anything but meat and the bun, then just do that. The key is, have fun with it!
I’m so happy that I listened to Reilly, and was adventurous enough to expand my horizons. This Venison Cheeseburger will remain high on my meal plan list, and I will become that person who always has venison meat in the freezer. And I’m excited to create new game meat recipes. Again, more things that I never thought would ever come out of my mouth.
Have fun with this recipe, and enjoy!
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- 16 ounces Venison meat
- 3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
- 4 cloves raw garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon fresh-minced parsley
- 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
- 4 cherry or grape tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 Tablespoon red onion, diced
- 2 jalapenos
- 4 slices provolone cheese (or other cheese)
- 4 hamburger buns
- Mustard and mayonnaise, for condiments (optional)
- Lettuce or spinach leaves
In large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. When finished, remove bacon and reserve about 1 Tablespoon of bacon fat
Add onion to skillet and cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove and add to cooked bacon
When bacon, onion and garlic cool, add to venison. Add onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, parsley, and Worchestershire sauce. Set aside for 30 minutes
While mixture rests, heat grill pan or grill over medium heat. Add jalapenos, and cook for about 5 minutes per side until they soften slightly and get the grill marks. Remove from grill pan. When they are cool enough to handle, cut off large end, slice into strips, and remove seeds
Add avocado into bowl and smash, leaving some chunks. Add in tomato, red onion, and garlic salt, to taste.
Combine meat mixture completely, and form into 4-ounce patties.
Spray grill pan with avocado oil spray, and add patties. Cook for about 7 minutes per side, or until patties reach your desired level of done.
Top patties with cheese slices during last 3 minutes of cooking. If you're using a grill pan, you can cover the patties with a pan cover to help the cheese melt a little faster
Assemble burgers. Dress buns with condiments, add lettuce and burger patties to bottom bun, top with sliced jalapeno and guacamole